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Debra's Natural Gourmet grows communityDebra's Natural Gourmet grows community

Natural Products Expo and Natural Foods Merchandiser joined to award retailers of the year in the categories of sustainability, innovation, community and best new store. Debra's Natural Gourmet, of Concord, Massachusetts is a community engagement finalist. 

Christine Kapperman

September 6, 2014

1 Min Read
Debra's Natural Gourmet grows community

Talk to Debra Stark about her health food store and it’s easy to forget that she runs a business. She talks of friends and farmers, of pulling together for the greater good, for the betterment of community and cohorts. Inspired to be like “the place where everybody knows your name,” Debra’s Natural Gourmet has become a healthy Cheers, a place of community.

Stark favors the local food movement, from participating in a regional supply to paying the way for a farmer’s special training to supporting myriad other efforts. “Concord is very active in that regard and we are always a part of whatever is going on,” Stark says.

At the heart, it’s all about people.

Here are three ways Stark engages—and enhances—her hometown:

Give Back Day: Owner Debra Stark inspired the West Concord downtown business district to play host to an annual event that raises money and awareness for 16 nonprofits. Volunteers man information tables at stores and retailers donate 5 percent of the day’s profits.

Stone Soup: To gather around and raise funds for local agriculture, Stark is among founders of the annual Stone Soup dinner held as a gathering of local food establishments and farmers and served in the fields of local farms.

Cooking show: Stark has even opened her home kitchen to share knowledge about healthy cooking and let the community meet staff in a unique way. It’s all seen on Eat Well, Be Happy, a public access television show that airs in 14 Massachusetts cities and expanding. 

About the Author(s)

Christine Kapperman

Senior Content Director, New Hope Network

As the senior content director at New Hope Network, Christine Kapperman combines her 20-year journalism background with her passion for business to cover the natural products industry for newhope.com and Natural Foods Merchandiser magazine. She also led content at worldteanews.com. She loves tracking (and tasting) trends as she shares what’s next to show up in cups, plates and in pantries across the United States.

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